I can't believe it... it's... it's... the last chapter...
wow. I need a moment to just bask in the ultra craziness of this...
Well, here you guys go. The... (sniffle) last chapter.
Mighty and grand, the sun stationed itself high over the clouds and glanced across the green spread ground. It seemed to be celebrating happily with the bright blue that graced itself endlessly across the sky. The plants below cooed with happiness as they looked up at a young couple floating hand-in-hand in the sky. Riding the wave currents like the water he newly remembered, Haku tightened his hold on Chihiro's palm as he guided her to the bathhouse. Glancing in her direction with his peripheral vision, he watched a smile grace her cherub cheeks and felt her squeeze back. He grinned.
On and on they flew together, the silence issuing between them staying comfortable and warm. It was almost as though words needn't be said. Their feelings were spelled out in their conjoined hands; connecting him to her and her to him.
The shadows of the bathhouse slowly rose in sight as they made their way through the air. For the first time since he had taken off in the night sky to Swamp Bottom, Haku remembered the bargain he had made with the old witch.
He felt nervousness join the warmth he felt for Chihiro and together the two emotions rolled around in his belly. Glancing at her once more indiscreetly, the green eyed boy saw no nervousness in her eye.
Only firm confidence.
Focusing on the main entrance, Haku saw from below the old witch pacing the wooden floor with a dozen or so pigs lined together in front of bridge. Her blue dress clashed along with the red building behind her as she waited obviously impatient for them to arrive. Many spectators of frogs and slugs, including Rin and, the boiler man, Kamaji, sat on the roof looking over the scene with much interest.
"There they are!" A shout came from below and voices broke out within the crowd. Haku lowered Chihiro's altitude slowly, keeping some space between themselves and Yubaba. Softly, he landed them on the other side of the bridge; the wind still blowing around them.
And together, they stood, her small strong hand nestled in his; defiantly facing the one who opposed them:
It was then that Boh, the pink rat, and Yu-bird, the black bug, buzzed slowly over across the bridge; casting a small shadow against the eastern sun.
Still failing to notice the creatures approaching, Yubaba sneered and said, "I see you failed to bring my baby back!" But as if to punctuate her comment, Boh suddenly transformed with a loud thud right in front of her.
His landing vibrated the ground Haku stood on. Everyone on the roof gasped as the enormous toddler grinned through his baby fat and cried, "Mama!" Yubaba's feet knocked on the hard wooden planks of the bridge as she ran to her missing child.
"My baby!" she cried and hugged his vast stomach. Her long nose bent into his red bib. "Are you traumatized? Did they do terrible things to you?" Her gigantic painted eyes searched him wonderingly as she looked him over for any damages. "You're standing all by yourself. When did that happen?"
Haku gave Chihiro's hand a quick squeeze before he let it go. Feeling the warmth still in his palm from her, he shouted to the happy mother, "Don't forget your promise!"
Yubaba shifted her eyes and they turned into evil slits as they slid to focus on the green eyed boy. Her snarling appearance no longer fazed him as he rebelliously glared back at her.
"You must return Chihiro and her parents to the human world!" he demanded.
"No so fast, Haku," she hissed back. "I get to give Sen one final test."
An explosion of sound erupted from the roof as all of the bathhouse workers gave shouts of protest and boos. This change of events almost made Haku smile. 'What an altering from before.' He thought amazed. He remembered back when he had first told them about Chihiro joining their ranks when she needed a job from the foreman. 'They had all rejected her. And now… now they stand up to Yubaba for her.'
"SHUT-UP!" The old witch roared at the objecting crowd and they disappeared immediately from view, afraid of her wrath.
"Stop it, mama."
This shocked Haku almost as much as it shocked Yubaba.
Boh, Yubaba's own beloved baby, was over there defending Chihiro as well. Standing up to his own mother. Haku let his green eyes slide inconspicuously over to the young girl standing at his left. Her shoulders were squared straight and her head was held high. 'She's changed everyone here. Boh, the workers...' Haku thought astonished as the workers gradually peaked their heads over the roof again.
"Leave her alone." Boh demanded in his baby voice. Suddenly his face broke out into his baby fat smile, "Sen and I had a really good time."
Yubaba's throat was caught. She had a torn look in her eyes.
Please her baby and let Chihiro go, or suffer her precious baby's displeasure and test her.
"But a deals a deal, sweetie." She cooed as gently as she could in her scratchy voice. "I have to give Sen one final test."
"If you make Sen cry, I won't like you anymore." Boh replied, childishly.
The green eyed boy let a small smile grace his lips as he watched Yubaba struggle even more with her dilemma. "But… uh…" She stammered.
A strong sweet voice suddenly rang clear across the bridge from Haku's left.
"Granny?" Yubaba croaked and turned from her baby to face Chihiro.
"You're right. A deals a deal." She yelled assertively and contentedly left Haku to walk the bridge banks alone. Her confidence radiated off of her as she stared straight ahead to Yubaba's looming face. Haku watched her in admiration as she took on the stares of every spirit in the vicinity. 'She herself has changed as well.' Haku thought in awe, remembering when he first met her crouching behind the back houses.
"Ok, I'm ready," She announced clearly. "I'll take your test."
"Hmph." The old witch grunted and slowly a faint shadow of her old nasty smile came back to her wrinkled face. "You've got guts. I've got your contract right here." She showed a rolled up paper clutched in her fist. "Come this way." With a disgusting sweet voice, she suddenly cooed to her enormous child. "This will only take a minute."
"Don't worry," Chihiro whispered confidently to the huge youngster as she followed Yubaba to the pig pen in front of the bathhouse.
Haku couldn't help but be worried. Knowing Yubaba, the test was most likely going to be a trick. And if she failed… she would stay… stay at the bathhouse forever… forever with him? Shaking his head slightly, the green eyed boy let those thoughts slide, and kept his attention on the problem at hand.
'The test… does it have to do with the pigs?' He wondered. 'What could Yubaba possibly be planning?' Searching the scene with his sharp eyes, Haku studied the pigs before them. None of them were Chihiro's parents… so why Yubaba would put them there… His face frowned in concentration. He couldn't for the life of him figure out why Yubaba would put pigs there… unless…
"See if you can tell which of these pigs is your mother and father." Yubaba croaked, her eyes shining maliciously.
Haku felt himself give an inaudible gasp. He had told her before. Could she remember? Did she know?
None of them.
That's the trick! Her parents weren't out there!
"You get one try. If you get it right, you can all go home." With their backs to him, Haku could not see Chihiro's face. The anticipation of her answer made the silence that issued throughout the surrounding area heavy. His green eyes filled themselves with her firm back as she flipped her studious vision back and forth at the different pigs in front of her. As the moments crept by, the stillness became louder than rushing water. He knew all of them could hear his beating heart all the way where he was standing. It hammered so profoundly in his chest like a increasingly fast beating drum.
"Huh?" Chihiro suddenly said through the looming quiet. Haku hands curled into fists as he waited anxiously for her to say more. "There must be a mistake. Neither of these pigs are my mom or dad?"
'Yes!' Haku closed his eyes for a second, smiling fiercely. 'She knew! She remembered!' Opening them again, he focused them on Yubaba's face. The old witch's eyes glittered with some mysterious emotion, Haku didn't know if it was some strange triumph or just annoyance.
"None of them? Is that really your answer?"
'Yes! Yes, it's your answer!' Haku urgently thought as though trying to send in his answers to her. 'Say yes!'
Slowly, Chihiro nodded her head in affirmation.
"YES!" Haku yelled, throwing his arms up in victory, but his cry was overthrown by a sudden explosion. The twelve pigs had instantly transformed to slugs and frogs that had been punished long ago. "You got it!" They cried together as everyone else applauded joyfully.
'Yubaba lost another bet then…' Haku thought smiling widely as the rooftop exploded with cheers and cries.
As Chihiro's contract ripped with satisfaction in Yubaba's red painted fingers, Haku heard the wind carry something away. It sounded behind him as it whistled through the air. It carried her parents… to the other side of the river… the human side…
'Her parents… they are waiting…' He thought suddenly, feeling his happiness evaporate like rain. 'She's leaving…'
He filled his eyes on her excited face; shining in the sun as she watched the crowds cheer. "Thank you, everyone!" Her voice, that angelic voice… would he ever hear it again?
He heard Yubaba say something, but was too wrapped up in her to care. It wasn't until she had turned back to look elatedly at his face, Haku put on a smile.
Hiding his true emotions… he never thought he'd have to do that again…
"Haku!" She called his name as she ran to meet him. Oh heavens above, that voice. That wonderful voice.
Widening his smile, Haku held out his hand to her. "Let's go!" he heard himself say as she once again slid her small palm in his. Her warming touch caused the normal shivers to run through his spine.
Leading her through the open empty streets, he flashed back to her first night when he had leaded her through the back short cuts. 'She has done so much since then.' He thought sadly. 'And now… she's gone…'
"Where's my mom and dad?" she asked innocently, panting slightly as they ran down the steps guiding to the spirit shops. Haku kept his voice uplifted as he replied, "When you past the test, they woke up on the human side of the river. They're there now, and they're looking for you."
He heard her sigh quietly to herself. Was it from relief? Or something else…?
You'll remember me
When the wind within you
Glides upon the river.
Forget the sun in his jealous sky
As you're bathed in pools of gold
Green filled the senses as they approached the steps directing them to the river. Mountain ranges could be seen kissing the bright blue above. Huge white clouds floated aimlessly past not noticing the battle raging in the green eyed spirit below them.
Looking about her with the wind lifting her bangs smoothly off her forehead, Chihiro's voice suddenly pierced through the quiet valley.
"There's no water here. I can walk across now."
"But I can't go any farther." Haku said quietly, his tone slipped with his hidden sadness. His heart felt heavy in his chest as she turned her wide, beautifully confused eyes onto his face; the wind breathing across her soft cheeks. Slowly, he met her gaze with his own, hoping to spell out his ache into them. Suddenly, he felt the urge to touch the warm velvety skin on her forehead again. To smooth back the hanging bangs that framed her round smooth cheeks. To…
"Just go back the way you came. You'll be fine." He made himself say. His voice was tight. He knew it was. But he had to.
He had to.
"But you have to promise not to look back. Not until you've pasted through the tunnel."
We belong together
Like the roaring sea upon the shore
Will you stay with me?
And glide upon the river?
We'll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we bathe in pools of gold.
"But what about you?" Her eyes had sadness about them. He let himself get lost in her bright orbs. "What'll you do?"
Haku let a small smile creep on his face. She didn't need to be bothered about him. "Don't worry. I'll go back and have a talk with Yubaba. I'll tell her I'm going to quit being her apprentice." 'And it was because of you, I am able to do this. You set me free, Chihiro.' He added in his mind. He could tell though that she was still glazed with worry for him, and it made him smile even more.
'She's so wonderful.'
Haku suddenly found that he couldn't take it anymore. She couldn't stay in this world, that was evident, but… she meant so much to him… Keeping her hand joined in his, the green eyed boy pulled her closer to face him. Breathing in her scent, he let her heavenly smell wash over him once again. It smelled of his long forgotten river…
"I'm fine." He whispered gently to her. "I've got my name back."
"Will we meet again sometime?" She slowly moved her face closer to his and he felt his heart race against his ribs.
"Sure we will." He whispered back to her tenderly and squeezed her hand in his. The texture of her soft skin sent a tingle down his spine. He memorized it's velvety feeling as he rubbed his thumb back and forth on top of it.
She smiled slightly, her blushing cheeks glowed a beautiful rosy hue. "Promise?" she softly asked, inching even closer to him.
"Promise." He sealed his swear in a quick exhale.
"Now go," Haku commanded affectionately and pushed her softly down the stone steps with their joined hand. The lack of her close body made the wind chilly as she followed his guiding hand. "And don't look back."
Gradually, her hand slipped off of his as she walked further and further away. The air hit his outstretched palm making the warmth she had made cold and empty. Bit by bit, he lowered his arm to rest by his side; his green eyes following her retreating form. Her figure ran swiftly through the grass as she, once again, joined her world once more.
The spiritual wind swirled around him, ruffling his hair and clothes and reminding him of his promise of protection. He knew had lived up to that one and would find a way to continue it.
This new one he had just made… the green eyed boy knew he would cherish till he finally faded away from this world. Though his spirit might stop continuing onward, his love for her would endure forever and beyond.
It would stay ageless as water.
Good golly... It's all done. The entire movie all through Haku's eyes (and then some... lol)
My sister's wedding is this weekend and I hardly was able to finish this with all her moving to her fiance's apartment and carting her crap around and decorating her new crappy home with the crap she purchased to decorate it and going to JC Penny's in order to find matching necklaces and bracelets for the bridesmaid dresses.
She's matching our jewelry even!
Someone save me now!
I've already started an Escaflowne fic, so I'll be busy playing with that.
But honestly, I don't think I can ever leave Haku alone now... I might just pop up with something else! lol!
A Mucho Thank You to everyone who stayed with me through the very end and were so sweet to constantly tell me you liked the story! You are the reason I got all the way! You're the reason I have finally finished! I love you! Truely and deeply in my heart!
(The song for the last chapter: "We Belong Together" by Gavin Degraw (the Tristian and Isolde soundtrack)) It's a beautiful song! I'm telling you! I took some of the words, but most of them are my own. But seriously, check this song out! It made me a puddle of tears as I was writing this!